UCL News


Studying Uganda's shrinking snowcaps

4 July 2003

As part of its ongoing centenary celebrations, UCL's Department of Geography has led an expedition to the Ruwenzori mountains in Uganda to examine the impact of climate change.

The Ruwenzori mountains in Uganda, Africa The expedition team performed a month-long study of the mountain's snowcaps, currently the largest in tropical Africa, to determine the rate and consequence of their decline.

UCL's researchers worked with Makerere University (Uganda), the Ugandan government and the University of Innsbruck (Austria), as part of the largest scientific expedition to the Ruwenzori mountains in more than 50 years. This is the first detailed assessment of the glaciers in more than a decade, and is especially timely as recent research into east Africa's only other snowcapped mountain - Kilimanjaro - suggests that its snowcap will disappear entirely within the next twenty years.

The expedition, which was sponsored in part by the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Society, examined the impact of glacial recession on alpine aquatic ecosystems and mountain streamflow which downstream communities rely on for year-round water supply and the generation of hydroelectric power. The team also aimed to uncover the environmental history of the Ruwenzori Mountains by looking at environmental indicators buried in mountain lake sediment and glacial ice. With this, the team hopes to improve our understanding of the causes of rapid environmental change that has occurred on the mountains during the last century.

Image: The Ruwenzori mountains in Uganda.

To find out more about the expedition use the link below.

Ruwenzori expedition